Friday, July 30, 2010


If General Revelation is the message from God to us through the natural world, Special Revelation is His word to us through the supernatural world. 

Special revelation includes physical appearances of God, dreams, visions, the written Word of God, and most importantly—Jesus Christ.[i]

Jesus reveals more about God than Creation, miracles and scriptures can together.  Furthermore, the Holy Spirit has come to amplify Jesus and all other revelations of God that have been given. 

Jesus listened to the reoccurring themes of human worry and anxiety.  He brought comfort and taught us to look to the supernatural by observing the natural realm.  Often our temporal concerns are rooted in metaphysical fears.  We are afraid of perishing.  We worry that God is not present to help us.  So, Jesus took a look around and pointed out what God had been trying to say all along.

Luke 12:
 22 Then Jesus said to his disciples: "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. 23 Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. 24 Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! 25 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? 26 Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?
27  "Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 28 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! 29 And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. 30 For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.
 32 "Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

I’m not sure how much consciousness birds have of God, but I doubt that any of them are agnostics.  Birds know what they know and that may include an awareness of the Creator.  All creation is apparently waiting for God to restore everything.  What are we waiting for?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


 When theologians talk about General Revelation, they refer to the ways that God has exposed Himself through the natural world.  What can we observe about God’s nature through examining the natural world?

Psalm 19:
1 The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
 2 Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge.
 3 There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. 
 4 Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. 

The question is have you heard what the sky and the universe are saying?  Every generation of every people group have looked up and heard something about God by observing the natural world.

Romans 1:
20 For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

Have you not seen the invisible?  The visible world speaks loud and clear to this other world.

On Thursday night I took the youth group on an urban tour of the immediate church neighborhood.  Within two blocks I pointed out a list of miracles and tragedies that happened in the last several years.  As we walked back on a residential street I instructed them to be silent and listen with their ears and heart.  When we returned, we discussed our observations.

What did you hear?  Birds, conversations, traffic, televisions, dogs--- beyond the obvious sounds, there were things heard within.  One of the young men noted that he had never noticed how many beautiful flowers there were in the midst of derelict properties.  Life was happening in the midst of neglect and decay.

Monday, July 26, 2010


 “What you don’t know won’t hurt you.”

This is a common idiom expressing the idea that if you don’t know about a particular problem or misdeed, you will not be affected by worrying about it.  When someone says this to me, I start to worry.

Does worry come from having all the facts or from being completely ignorant?  In the front of my college Bible, I wrote quotes.  One of them said, “Worrying is like sitting in a rocking chair.  It gives you something to do, but it gets you nowhere fast.”

Sometimes what you know causes anxiety.  Sometimes, it is ‘not knowing’ that is troublesome.

Consider the etymology of the word ‘agnostic’.  The prefix ‘a’ indicates ‘to be without’.  The Greek word ‘gnosis’ means spiritual knowledge.  An agnostic is a person ‘without spiritual knowledge’.  An agnostic by definition is someone who does not know something.

Agnosticism is the view that the truth value of certain claims—especially claims about the existence or non-existence of any deity, but also other religious and metaphysical claims—is unknown or unknowable.[i]

If agnosticism has value, it is in its acknowledgment of the limitations of human knowledge.  But, does ‘not knowing’ make a person more or less likely to have anxiety about the day to day struggles of life?

The Christian faith rests in the claim that God is knowable.  We find good reason to believe by examining general and special ways that God has revealed Himself to humanity. 

Saturday, July 24, 2010


Local journalist Frances Willick wrote a piece on the neighbourhood our church ministers in.  She had a front page article today in the Windsor Star.  Check it out:

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


 When was the last time you looked deeply into someone’s eyes and had them return the gaze into your soul?  There are vulnerable settings where a direct gaze can get you in trouble. 

How many women have felt violated by the body scan of a passing man’s gaze?  How many have felt inspected and found wanting when you walked into some gatherings?

So much of who we are and what we think is leaking out of our eyes. 

You can see evil eyes—lustful eyes—shamed eyes—sad eyes.  Eyes can change faster than the weather and say something truthful before the mouth opens to tell a lie.  There are also loving eyes—hopeful eyes—bright eyes of encouragement and honor.

What do your eyes focus on?  Where are you looking?  Your eyes are wired to your brain and will always go to the things that you value.

You might look into a field of sheep and see a flock of nameless faces.  The shepherd looks and sees individual sheep with unique characteristics and personalities. 

You might look in an antique shop window and see a display full of junk.  The collector might see a rare treasure and know its history and value.

Jesus noted that eyes are quite capable of offending you.  Your own eyes!  He crudely suggested plucking out the eye that causes you to sin.  If you do not want to go to that extreme, you can always take off your glasses, look at something better or at minimum admit that you have a problem with what you are treasuring in your heart.  No-one is willing to actually pluck out their eyes, but are you willing to do anything at all to deal with the issue in your heart?

Matthew 6:
22 "The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light.
23 But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

Is it any wonder that some people always wear sunglasses?  I’m not saying you are hiding something if you do, but the jig is up when your eyes tell us what you’re thinking.

Many have dark, dying, disturbed eyes because of what they have seen.  It is increasingly difficult to talk sense with someone else if they are filled with light and you darkness.  Light and darkness do not get along so well.  What fellowship if any can happen in that instance?  I know of nothing more grievous than trying to resolve an issue with people who have looked into the darkness and become deeply embittered. 

Your eyes are meant to be full of light and life.  You can look upon Jesus.  You can look for good in the world.  You can look for God’s Kingdom.  You can be full of light.  Great light or great darkness—either way there is greatness inside you. 

What do you see when you look at Jesus?  Is He not the light that dispels your darkness?  You can be filled with that great light.

Tyler Durden says an unforgettable line— “it’s only after we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do anything.”  My question is what do we have to lose?


1.      1.   Author Dave Blundell talks about 20% of the world’s population using 80% of its resources, leaving 80% of the population to survive on the remaining 20% of the resources.  As a Canadian, how does that make you feel and what can we possibly do to change to world’s distribution of resources (food, fresh water, money, education, etc.)?  Where does this kind of change start?

2.      2.   During the Cold War with the Soviet Union we were taught about the evils of communism.  The early church in the book of Acts were noted for taking care of the poor in their midst by selling off excess, sharing everything they had living with a great sense of unified community.  That sounds more like socialism than capitalism.  Communism failed and many would say that our system is also failing to care for its citizens.  What are some practical ways that you and I could share and help each other in ways similar to the Early Church?

3.      3.   Jesus said to store treasures in Heaven.  How are you doing that?  How do you measure that?

4.      4.   What have been your experiences with light and darkness?  How have the things you focus on affected your inner condition?  How has the treasure in your heart turned into light or darkness of soul?

Monday, July 19, 2010


 I’m intrigued by what people collect.  For me, it is the songs on my iPod.  Beyond that, I don’t have many things that I care about collecting.

I have a cousin who collected stuffed animals.  One of my sister’s has collectible plates and snow globes.  Someone else has thousands of DVDs and somebody else collects guitars.

Whether it is tools, luxury cars, hockey cards, Coca-cola memorabilia or shoes, everyone has their reasons for collecting.  There is probably nothing intrinsically wrong with having a collection.  The question is whether we have the stuff or the stuff has us.

Have you noticed that choking feeling that comes over you when you think you need something you cannot afford?  What dream has not been fulfilled because you are tied down by taking care of your stuff?  You once dreamed about having your own place and now you have it.  So why do you dream about getting into a bigger house?  That car that you wanted so bad five years ago is now falling apart and costing you more than you expected.  Are you feeling things tightening?

In the story about the seed and the soil, Jesus identified the ground where the weeds choked the life out of the growing plant.  The poor soul who is filled with the cares of the world and deceived by riches is choking to death!

Stop right now and take a deep breath.  Are you going to let these anxieties destroy your life?

There are harmless hobby collections, but then there are possessions that hold power over us—they possess us!  Like Gollum with his precious ring, things can become obsessively demanding in our lives. 

Things can make us feel that we have status in the eyes of others.  Things can make us feel safer.  Things can assure as that we have succeeded at living. 

At least, that is what we sometimes believe about our things.  Perhaps, we have been charmed by the power of things and bought into a lifestyle of lies.

Listen to Jesus about these things.

Matthew 6:
19 "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.
20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.
21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Jesus calls us to change the things we collect and where we store them.  Instead of collecting earthly things that wear out and break, collect heavenly things.  Instead of storing our stuff in storage units and garages, store things in Heaven.

I like Lynn Stout’s slogan.  She collects people.

Was Jesus anti-materialistic?  No, but He was realistic.  The greatest treasures on earth in Jesus’ time have all disintegrated.  A tiny remnant of treasure is in fragile estate stored in museums and galleries.  But apart from the anthropological and aesthetic values, it is still stuff that no-one can really use.

Jesus knew that in the shortness of our lives, that the stuff would all wear out and be a poor legacy to leave behind for successive generations.  What matters most to Jesus is eternal treasure.  What affect on human lives will you leave when you go?  Will your life be marked by the yard sale after you die or the eternal values you lived by?  What is the stuff that will outlast your human remains?

We Christians believe in resurrection.  We are not merely passing time here until we can get to Heaven.  We believe that we will rise again and that Heaven will come to earth.  We believe that eternal things will last forever.  What do have that will last forever?  You may as well think about it now and live accordingly.  Store the things that are beyond a worldly price.

This has everything to do with how we spend our time and money.  Today, there are treasures in your heart.  Everything revolves around those things. 

It breaks my heart when I see empty church buildings being used by a handful once or twice a week when the opportunities abound to share the space with the community. 

I often wrestle with questions about how I can live on less and give more away.  It’s not a comfortable question.  There are choke marks on my neck.  And if you look into my eyes, will there be evidence of life?

Saturday, July 17, 2010


 In the movie ‘Fight Club’, the character Tyler Durden says an unforgettable line— “it’s only after we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do anything.”

In the context of that movie, the words were used to legitimize insane behavior.  But what if there is truth to the idea of losing to gain?  What do you have to lose?  What stuff have you amassed?  What have you worked hard to achieve?  Do you ever feel like giving it all up?  Or does the thought of losing it all cause you to curl into fetal position?

The house I live in today is larger than any house we ever lived in growing up.  I have two full bathrooms and a two car garage.  I never had that growing up.  Overall, houses are getting bigger while family sizes are getting smaller.  Bigger houses and smaller yards...  Where else are we going to keep all our stuff?

Is it just me or storage units and garbage dumps on the rise?  Storage units appear to be a profitable business and municipalities are exporting their garbage anywhere that will get it away from them. 

I know a man who had to move into a storage unit when his apartment had a fire.  With no place to put all his stuff he rented the unit, but could not afford another apartment.  He ended up catching naps at a friend’s house and basically lived out of his storage unit.  He kept his clothes there, his important papers and lots of ragged junk.  His home was an 8x10 storage unit.

As strange as it sounds, he was still living with more opportunity and personal space as many of the world’s citizens today.  There are many places where his storage unit would be suitable shelter for an entire family.

I’m reading a book that I will be reviewing on my blog.  It is entitled ‘Hungry For Life’ by Dave Blundell[i].  One of the more startling statistics presented states ‘20% of the world’s population in developed countries consumes 80% of all the world’s resources, which means that 80% of the world’s population, from the poorest countries, are left to live off of 20% of the world’s resources.’[ii]

Because we live in the midst of it, we are often indifferent to the extreme lack experienced by the other 80% of the world.  If we lost everything, would we be free to do anything?  How free are you now to be obedient to God’s impulses in your life?

The North American church needs to experience a revolution of downsizing our stuff while increasing our direct involvement in caring for the poor locally and around the world.

[i] Hungry For Life, ©2010 David J. Blundell, WestBow Press
[ii] World Bank Development Indicators, Poverty Facts And Stats, 2008

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Penn Gillette is an atheist.  Penn is a comedian.  Without a joke, he talks about the kindness of a Christian who gave him a Bible.  This is a reminder to me that it's important to share your beliefs without pretense or posturing.  Kindness goes a long way.

Thanks John for sharing this link with me.


Friday, July 9, 2010


(I think this will be my last post about Cornerstone for this year.  I do have 3 book reviews that I'm trying to wrap up and hope to post in the coming weeks.)

MEWITHOUTYOU - most of the mainstage performances were disappointing to me for two reasons.  With the best equipment in the world, the sound system was mixed poorly.  Secondly, many of the mainstage acts were not artists that I thrive on.  Mewithoutyou was an exception to my 2nd reason.  Aaron Weiss is a most intriguing frontman and writer.  Raised in a home with a Sufi Muslim mother and a Jewish father, he borrows from the big 3 Abrahamic religions for source material.  As you can imagine, that creates controversy and that was evident the next day.  Glen Clark was the facilitator for a seminar that Aaron was to speak at.  Someone pulled the plug on Aaron speaking and Glen tried to fill the time by explaining without explaining why Aaron wasn't going to be speaking.  All that aside, it was a great concert.  Their latest album involved production from Daniel Smith of Danielson Famile.  Aaron is screaming less and singing more with great effect.

GLENN KAISER - I caught 2 performances.  The first was his power blues trio.  Glenn continues to hold his jam rock roots firmly and passionately.  His playing and singing are as cutting and electrifying as ever.  The 2nd performance was a late night blues jam with a handful of players including Jesus music veteran Rob Cassells on B3 and piano.  Lip smackin' tasty.  Glenn is a humble, affectionate gentleman on stage and the late night blues jam proved there is a still a place for the old guys at Cornerstone :>)

A PLEA FOR PURGING - I'm probably too old for Hardcore/screamo music, but I love it live.  These guys are tight players and extremely entertaining to watch.  Their frontman hardly has to move to keep your attention.  Their bass player is a giant, long-haired Paul Bunyan who spins his hair around like a windmill.  Man... do these boys rock!!!

BREAKING THE FOURTH WALL - in theater and television, 'breaking the fourth wall' refers to actors deliberately penetrating the imaginary wall between audience and stage.  Someone on stage will break from script to say something to an audience member.  The band by this name is from Montreal and have played at a local venue we hold in our church building.  We call the venue 'Hardcore Church'.  The band stayed overnight at the church when they played Windsor and had breakfast with us the next day.  I caught their last two songs at one of their Cornerstone performances.  They do hardcore well and two of the original band members waved at me from the stage.  Then in their last song when they 'break the fourth wall', one of the guitarists took off his shoes and chucked them into the audience.  One of the shoes met my face and knocked my glasses off.  While I would have preferred they keep the fourth wall intact, it added to the humor and provided me with two days of apologies following.  Great hardcore show.

LISTENER - a beat poet who reminds me of Buck 65 and the manic edge of Nick Cave.  I would see these guys again in a heartbeat.  Picture a manic poet chanting to tracks accompanied by his sidekick who plays guitar or pounds a washing machine onstage with a club.  Some other guest was onstage playing banjo and sharing the pounding responsibilities.  I do not believe Listener is endorsed by Maytag, but they should be.

O'BROTHER - this 5 piece band comes from Atlanta, Georgia and bring an intensity I haven't heard for awhile.  Maybe a postmodern Michael Been meets Live.  Adding to the mysteriousness, two of the brothers are either North American Indian or Mexican (pardon my cultural lack of awareness).  Long haired with mustaches and dark skin.  They brought a mystical ambience to the whole production.

HAND DRAWN MOUNTAINS - a young band from Pennsylvania that prove that boys and girls can co-exist in a complimentary fashion on stage.  A haunting male vocalist and a crisp, creative guitarist are perfectly framed by the other bandmates who bring wonderful songs to life.  Watch for these people.

WHITE COLLAR SIDESHOW - okay, this is nuts!  But I like it.  This is a theatrical piece using drums, bass  and multimedia images.  The ringmaster openly confesses that he had an addiction to porn and the show is built on that problem being rampant among Christian men and women.  He's dressed up like a ringmaster and moves around the stage playing drums and percussion.  His wife plays bass in a cage wearing a blank white mask.  The third member plays drums and wears a pig mask and overalls.  He wanders out at times to the audience.  The whole thing has the feel of a horror movie and does a great job of calling people to repentance.

Thursday, July 8, 2010


For the previous post, I'm adding links to the bands that tickled my fancy at Cornerstone Music Festival.  Next post, I will comment on Mewithoutyou, A Plea For Purging, Breaking The Fourth Wall, Listener, O'Brother, Hand Drawn Mountains, White Collar Sideshow and whoever else comes to mind.








Tuesday, July 6, 2010


My computer could not have crashed at a better time.  Just prior to holidays the hard drive and power supply went down.  If data recovery is complete, I will get it back today.

So instead of working, I spent the past week in Bushnell, Illinois at Cornerstone Music Festival.  I've wanted to go since the eighties and finally made it. 

Comments on various bands:

THE LOST DOGS - best show of several times hearing them.  The new album is based on the Grapes Of Wrath with a dust bowl theme.  I told Mike Roe this album could easily add ten years to their career.  Terry Taylor recently turned 60.

MIKE ROE - what is it with the aging guys returning to roots music?  Mike's new stuff is diggin' deep into the early years of gospel and blues.  Still one of my favorites.  Had an conversation with him about Gene Eugene who passed away 10 years ago.  Mike heard me sing at Dwight's funeral and later realized I reminded him of Gene's voice.  Had he known I was at the festival during his duet performance with Derry Daugherty, he would have invited me to sing Gene's part on Anytime At All.  It's probably best that I didn't have the opportunity.  The ghost of Gene Eugene might start haunting me.

TERRY TAYLOR - something good must be happening to Terry at 60.  He performance was stellar and his writing for the Dogs richer.

OVER THE RHINE - Wow!  class act that I finally got to see. 

MEN AS TREES WALKING - a family band with a few extras from Texas.  Jewish reggae folk rock.  They really have an unusual worship vibe complete with top hats, goggles, dreadlocks, kilts, striped leggings, etc.  True blue charismatics with an unforgettable performance.

THE ILLALOGICAL SPOON - self-described as green anarchists and theologians.  I picture this tribe living in plywood shacks deep in the woods near Jackson, Michigan.  It was truly a hippie hootenany complete with guitars, percussion, cello, upright bass, mandolin, trumpet and a hairy legged girl with a tree branch for percussion. 

TIMBRE - Timbre is a harpist and singer that raised the bar on performance.  Her gentle hippie band added stunning accompaniment on accordion, guitar, percussion and various sundry instruments and vocals.  Gently Bjork-like with shades of My Brightest Diamond.  I think Timbre just might be the smartest musician there.  She had guest appearances on stage with Mewithoutyou, O Brother, Dignan, Sleeping Giants, and a few more.  She really knows how to make friends and that will take her a million miles in the biz.

I'll add more reflections on my next post.

Saturday, July 3, 2010


 When you are in difficult places, God often has someone else nearby who can remind you of how the road is being built.  Eight years ago I still had a friend whose suffering drew me closer to God.

Some of you knew Dwight Ozard.  While working for Tony Campolo’s organization, he came down with multiple myeloma, a form of cancer and went through hideous treatment to bring him back to health. 

During the crazy August of 2002, we were writing emails back and forth.  After we had shared some of our life frustrations and difficulties, he wrote, “Hang in there.  I will if you will.”

You see, most of us carry silent grief and distress over the tougher lessons in life.  We may go through seasons of discouragement and discontent.

At those times, let’s not forget that time is a weak currency.  It will all be spent while you live on this earth.  The account is draining and will soon be gone.  Eternity is closer than we think.

So while we are still here, we need a focus.  Listen to what Paul had to say about this dilemma of mortal existence.

Rom 8:15-28
15 And so we should not be like cringing, fearful slaves, but we should behave like God's very own children, adopted into the bosom of his family, and calling to him, "Father, Father."
16 For his Holy Spirit speaks to us deep in our hearts and tells us that we really are God's children.
17 And since we are his children, we will share his treasures-for all God gives to his Son Jesus is now ours too. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering.
18 Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will give us later.
19 For all creation is waiting patiently and hopefully for that future day when God will resurrect his children.
20 For on that day thorns and thistles, sin, death, and decay --the things that overcame the world against its will at God's command-will all disappear, and the world around us will share in the glorious freedom from sin which God's children enjoy.
22 For we know that even the things of nature, like animals and plants, suffer in sickness and death as they await this great event. 
23 And even we Christians, although we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, also groan to be released from pain and suffering. We, too, wait anxiously for that day when God will give us our full rights as his children, including the new bodies he has promised us-bodies that will never be sick again and will never die.
24 We are saved by trusting. And trusting means looking forward to getting something we don't yet have-for a man who already has something doesn't need to hope and trust that he will get it.
25 But if we must keep trusting God for something that hasn't happened yet, it teaches us to wait patiently and confidently.
26 And in the same way-by our faith --the Holy Spirit helps us with our daily problems and in our praying. For we don't even know what we should pray for nor how to pray as we should, but the Holy Spirit prays for us with such feeling that it cannot be expressed in words.
27 And the Father who knows all hearts knows, of course, what the Spirit is saying as he pleads for us in harmony with God's own will.
28 And we know that all that happens to us is working for our good if we love God and are fitting into his plans.   (TLB)

I am waiting for the road to be completed.  I understand that it must be built and I will be detoured and delayed many times.  I will not forget that the road is being built so Jesus can get through the wilderness to us.  He is on His Way.  This is His Way.

Thursday, July 1, 2010


 The kidney stone was a really, strange diversion.  In dramatic fashion, I broke away from the responsibility and urgent demands of that day.  I went off-road and tumbled down an unmarked route. 

I experienced this weird waiting thing, where I knew the stone would pass and the suffering would fade.  But wow!  In the middle of the fierce pain, I grew understanding for what some must endure for months or years at a time.

I know that lots of people suffer because I belong to a dying race.  I want to wear my pain well if it ever visits me again.  In that potential could I become an ambassador of endurance?  I hope I don’t have to suffer too much.

I wasn't thinking those thoughts at the time of the pain attack.  I was ticked off with the agony.  I was being controlled by it, and I didn't like the submission to it that I felt.  I didn't know what was happening until the medical people told me, so I wasn't sure if I should be afraid, get angry or make peace with God.

I did throw in a deathbed confessional, just in case.

In those moments, I really like the idea of drugs that could make me comfortable.  My pre-occupation seemed to mostly be with comfort.  I just wanted relief.  When it came, I was sleepy and happy.

In the uneven ground of that season of detours, I wrote some thoughts about what I was feeling:

·        The kidney stone is a picture of the turmoil I'm feeling these days with my life and occupation.  I mostly want to get comfortable.  I want relief from the heart pains and the dying vision.   I want relief now.  I want to be sleepy and happy…
·        Even so Lord, come.  Sick, sinful, saint needs You.  Troubled with himself and too nice to admit that he feels trapped and alone again.  Stupid, self-centered, conflicted, wussy boy! 
·        Still, God is good and merciful.  I can't shake that.

Low places filling in.  High places getting flattened.  God’s jackhammer, dynamite and backfill being strategically placed.

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